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+ servings
A pot filled with Chili Mac topped with melted cheese.
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5 from 7 ratings

Chili Mac

This Chili Mac and Cheese recipe has hearty homemade chili combined with creamy macaroni and cheese. This meal mashup that makes a great dinner idea, potluck recipe, or game day food!

Ingredients

Chili

  • 1 lbs. ground beef, 80% lean
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1.25 oz. packet chili seasoning mix, see notes for homemade seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 14.4 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup chicken broth, can sub beef broth
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained

Mac and Cheese

  • 2 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each: salt/pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded

For Baking

  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Fresh Parsley, to garnish

Instructions

Make the Chili

  • Cook and crumble the ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the beef is brown and the onions are softened. Drain grease.
  • Add the bell peppers and the garlic and cook until the peppers are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the seasoning and tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomato sauce, undrained diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce so that it’s bubbling gently. Cover partially and let it simmer while you prepare the macaroni and cheese. The longer it simmers, the thicker and more concentrated it will get. Add the drained kidney beans during the last 10 minutes or so.

Make the Mac and Cheese

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Begin boiling salted pasta water for the macaroni. Proceed with preparing the cheese sauce while it comes up to a boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook according to package instructions, until just al dente. (Don’t overcook it.) Drain once cooked.
  • Melt the butter in a 4 ½ quart Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat and wait for it to begin to foam slightly. Whisk in the flour and stir continuously for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream in splashes, stirring continuously. Add the milk in the same manner.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the hot sauce and seasonings and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.
  • Gradually sprinkle in the shredded cheese, stirring continuously, until well-combined and smooth.
  • Add the drained macaroni and stir to combine. (For extra cheesy macaroni, add slightly less pasta as the noodles will continue to absorb the cheese sauce. My images show it with the full amount being added.)

Combine the Chili & Macaroni

  • Add the chili to the macaroni and use a silicone spatula to gently stir to combine. You may choose to add all of it, (as shown in the images), or some of it, the ratio of mac and cheese to chili is up to you! You can always freeze any excess chili.

Bake

  • Once combined, top with 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve!

Video:

Notes

Pro Tips:
  • Shred the cheese from a block as it will melt and taste much better than packaged shredded cheese. I use Cracker Barrel Sharp Yellow Cheese. 
  • Monterey Jack Cheese makes a nice addition to the cheddar as well.
  • The beans in the chili can be omitted if preferred. Drained/rinsed black beans may be used instead of kidney beans as well.
  • You can't taste the hot sauce in the mac and cheese, it is used as a flavor enhancer. I usually use Texas Pete Hot Sauce. (Frank's hot sauce is my trusty backup!)

Homemade Chili Seasoning (What I usually use for this recipe)
• 2 teaspoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• 1 pinch cayenne

Make-Ahead Methods:
  • Option 1: Make the chili 1-2 days ahead of time and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Reheat on the stove top until heated through, then proceed with cooking the macaroni and combining with the chili as outlined.
  • Option 2: The entire recipe can be assembled without the cheese topping and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. I suggest boiling the macaroni 1 minute shy of al dente in this case. When ready to serve, reheat the chili mac on the stop top until heated through. Top with cheese and bake at 400 ° for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Storage
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Leftovers can be frozen and do reheat well, be extra careful not to overcook the macaroni so that it's not mushy when reheated. (I always use a timer.)

Nutrition

Calories: 247kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Sodium: 321mg, Potassium: 415mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1541IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 184mg, Iron: 2mg